Font Psychology – What Do Different types of Fonts mean?

the psychology of fonts

Font psychology is the study of the psychological impact that fonts have on readers. Font psychology falls under the broad banner of typography, which deals with how certain fonts affect human behavior and emotions.

Fonts are designed to appear in writing for printing or display to enhance readability while emphasizing particular ideas or feelings. The font styles used can define mood, tone, feeling, suggestion and appeal plus provide character or uniqueness.

Some experts claim that up to 90% of our assessment of a product is based upon its packaging alone — and it all starts with the font the use! People make decisions about your business within seconds which means you have only one chance to make a great first impression. So what does this mean? Well, if your website’s logo, letterhead, or business cards are not up to par with your competitors, you will lose customers. Here is the good news—you control how you present your products and services.

Here are some common styles of fonts with a brief explanation of what they mean in order to better understand their impact on the human mind(aka font psychology):

1. Serif Fonts

These typefaces contain projecting features at the end of strokes, they help to make them more readable over long distances and at smaller sizes than sans serif fonts. Because their design is more complicated (and thus expensive to print!), most book text is printed in serif fonts. They also appear on screen with greater clarity than other types of fonts, making them preferable for many companies that use digital marketing strategies. Serif typefaces give a more traditional impression but can still present an air of sophistication due to their legibility from a distance. printed Serif fonts are also easy to read from distance .

Serif font style

2 . Sans Serif Fonts

Sans Serif fonts don’t have the small projecting features in the ending of the strokes which make words very easy to recognize. Their simplicity makes them clear and legible when printed in smaller font sizes, but they lack sophistication and tend to look rather harsh in larger point sizes. Sans serif fonts are preferred for headings and promotional literature and tend to be perceived as modern or contemporary.

san serif font style

3. Slab Serif Fonts

On the opposite end of the spectrum from traditional serif fonts, we have slab serifs, which feature thick serifs and square or rectangular ends rather than a curved or swirled ones. These fonts usually have very little difference between the thickness of their vertical and horizontal strokes, giving them a bold and grounded look. While we might normally think of slab serifs as being quite masculine (since they’re commonly used in sports and auto racing), they can be quite versatile if you choose the right font to pair with them!

Slab Serif fonts appeared just over 100 years ago and had their heyday in the 1950s to 1970s. This typeface is very thick compared to other serif fonts. They have a strong, bold presence that can easily be used on posters or signs because of their high level of legibility (being easy to read). Use slab serif typefaces fonts very carefully since they don’t always work well on longer texts like books or magazines.

slab serif font type

4. Monospace Fonts

Monospace fonts are designed to create an even pattern of characters on the page which often is pleasing to the eye of the reader. For example, each character in a monospace font will have the same width—unlike some other types of font styles that each letter might have different width. Monospaced fonts are best for typewriters and computer terminals because they produce text with even word spacing. However, this unvarying character width can be troublesome if you wish to emphasize certain words or phrases within your content.

While this was originally done for computers (so they could evenly space characters), Monospace fonts are not the same as Proportional Roman styles. This type of font style is usually used for displaying computer code or programming.

Monospace font style

5. Decorative Fonts

These are fun, casual font styles designed to catch attention with quirky shapes or unusual characters—but not necessarily so much for function! You probably won’t want to use these for body text in your business documents. However, they can still be great for logos, letterhead, and other promotional material.

decorative font type

6. Modern Fonts

Super quick definition? “Catchy”!! A modern typeface has an informal appearance, with features like asymmetrical serifs and loose letter spacing. They look less serious than traditional typefaces, but they are still useful for headings.

modern font style

7. Script Fonts

Script typefaces are based upon the look of personal handwriting. They are often very stylish but tend to be impractical in most professional situations because of their illegibility at smaller font sizes. If you’re using script fonts for your logo or headings, try pairing them with a more practical serif or sans serif typeface for body text.

Script font style

8. Modernistic/Experimental Fonts

These unusual fonts stand out from the crowd by creating an atmosphere of mystery to make people curious about what you have to say! Taking full advantage of the term font psychology! However, these typefaces aren’t usually legible enough to use in important pieces like reports, longer articles or business documents.

modernisttic experimental font style

9. Handwritten Fonts

These are the most informal of all fonts since they’re made to look like handwriting. They don’t always remain legible at smaller print sizes and often lack character recognition when viewed online or on mobile devices. We would recommend avoiding handwritten typefaces if your documents will be seen on screens. There is no guarantee that your intended audience will be able to read them correctly. But there are some great options out there for print media, particularly greeting cards and personal mails.

Handwritten font style

10. Retro/Vintage Fonts

Retro fonts mimic the styles used in previous decades—usually pre-1960s. They can be a lot of fun for giving an old-fashioned feel to your designs, but they take on a whole new meaning when you use these type of font styles to compliment vintage photos or other imagery.

vintage oldschool font style

11. Calligraphic Fonts

Calligraphic fonts imitate the look and flow of the handwritten script and are often seen as the most beautiful and natural-looking typefaces. However, this stylishness comes at a cost: calligraphy is difficult to master and, without skill, it becomes difficult for even professional designers to create legible text with these typefaces! If you choose to use them (and we recommend that you do), make sure that your copy is large enough and your audience has enough time to ready it.

Calligraphic font style

12. Modern Serif Fonts

These are a type of serif font that has been modernized in design so they look more modern and less traditional. If you wish to use a classic serif font style but still want something fresh, this would be the way to go. Note that “modern” does not always mean bigger or bolder—it just has a simpler structure than old-fashioned type fonts.

These types of sans-serif font styles were developed in post-WWII modernism—a time that favored simple rectilinear designs over ornate calligraphy. Modern sans serifs are usually quite thin and spindly compared to their thick-and-bold cousins, but similar to many didone or slab serifs they also have very little difference between the thickness of their vertical and horizontal strokes, giving them a bolder, more grounded look. This can sometimes be paired with a sans serif typeface that has less straight edges (like Gotham) to give it some softer, rounder forms.

Modern Serif font

13. Transitional Serif Fonts

Typographers sometimes use these words interchangeably, but there is a difference between transitional and modern serif fonts. Transitional refers to style from around 1700-1830 when typefaces began their shift from thick to thin strokes before arriving at the simple, modern serif fonts we use today. These font styles are more characteristic of early modernism and still commonly used in books and magazines for body text.

Transitional Serif font

14. Didone Serif Fonts

Didone is a French term that refers to “modern” or “new” serif fonts that evolved in the late 1700s and became very popular during the neoclassical period of typography (1790-1830). These types of fonts tend to be less decorated than transitional serifs but remain quite popular today—especially for headings and short passages of text where legibility is important.

Didone Serif font

15. Geometric Sans Serif Fonts

Geometric sans serifs are another sub-type of modernist sans serif fonts that share many characteristics with a similar monospace font style. These types of fonts were designed based on geometric shapes like squares and circles—hence the name! They’re very uniform in design (although there is still variation between individual characters), which makes them great for setting large amounts of text where simplicity and legibility are key to understanding your message or information quickly. Of course, they’re also great just to use as display type, thanks to their clean and modern look.

Geometric Sans Serif font style

16. Humanist Sans Serif Fonts

Humanist sans serif fonts were first developed during the Italian Renaissance as a way to create more visually appealing and legible typefaces than those previously available. They remain quite popular today and include some of the most famous sans-serif font faces we use on a day-to-day basis (like Helvetica). These types of sans serif fonts tend to be very proportional and similar in design throughout all the letters. This is probably why they’re great for both shorter passages of text as well as larger display settings where you want clarity without extra design elements getting in the way.

Humanist Sans Serif Fonts

17. Transitional Sans Serif Fonts

Same with with the transitional serifs, transitional sans serif fonts are a bridge between one style and the next. They’re somewhere in between old-style serifs (which are used to make typefaces before the nineteenth century) and modern sans serifs. The transition here is quite logical—in general, transitional sans serifs have more straight lines than old-style types, but not as many as modern ones. These are great for adding some flair to your project without going full-on retro or futuristic!

Transitional Sans Serif Font

18. Grotesk Sans Serif Fonts

The last common font style that we are going to talk about is the Grotesk sans serifs.  These are usually similar to geometric sans-serifs but tend towards an overall blockier appearance. this type of font style can be both modernist or futuristic, but generally have less variation between vertical and horizontal strokes so they still look grounded when used at large sizes. Grotesk sans serifs is great for manga/anime styling, video game design projects, or even editorial designs that need their information separated from their backgrounds!

Grotesk Sans Serif Font

Conclusion

Font psychology is the study of how fonts can influence a person’s thoughts. Different types of fonts have different meanings and characteristics. You should take that into consideration when designing your digital material (or website). The first thing that comes to mind with font psychology is choosing between serifs or sans-serifs for your content. If more reading comprehension was important in the article, then it might be best to use some transitional sans-serifs as headers while using old-style serif fonts for body copy so legibility won’t be an issue (although there are plenty of exceptions!). 

Font psychology can help you stay ahead of the game. So Choose your font style wisely!

Hint: We can help you create a logo or web design that truly fits your value proposition. We are only a click away.

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Font Psychology – What Do Different types of Fonts mean?
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